Based on survey results from 4 different countries - including the United Kingdom - the findings highlight how addictive tobacco cigarettes are, and the importance of ensuring that stop smoking services are made available to help people quit.
Peter Hajek, co-author of the research, from the Queen Mary University of London said that this shows prevention, providing fewer opportunities or reasons for young people to try a cigarette, is a good idea.
"Tobacco use starts in childhood for two-thirds of smokers in the United Kingdom, and this study suggests that even trying a cigarette becomes regular use in most cases", she said.
Together, the surveys included more than 216,000 respondents, with between 50% and 82% saying that, after trying a cigarette, they had gone on to smoke on a daily basis - at least temporarily.
The data ranged from 2000 to 2016 and examined the smoking habits of adults in the USA, the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand.
"This is the first time that the remarkable hold that cigarettes can establish after a single experience has been documented from such a large set of data", said Peter Hajek, professor of clinical psychology and director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Queen Mary University of London, who led the research.
On average, 60 percent of respondents admitted to having tried a cigarette.
Considering the high conversion rate found across the surveys, the researchers conclude that at least some of the decline in smoking prevalence observed over the last 20 years could be attributed to a reduction in experimentation by adolescents.
As different surveys used different methodologies, the 68.9% "conversion rate" has a 16% margin of error (60.9% to 76.9%).
Concerns were expressed that e-cigarettes could be as addictive as conventional cigarettes, but this has not been the case.
'The presence of nicotine is clearly not the whole story'.
Making smoking a habit doesn't take very long, the study has said. Smoking rates were lowest in England (15.5%) and highest in Northern Ireland (18.1%).
In 2016, 15.5% of adults from the United Kingdom smoked - about 7.6 million people - according to the Office for National Statistics, down from 19.9% in 2010.
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